Champagne and Burgundy Continue to Surge

The Champagne category performed well in the first quarter of 2017, as indicated by prices for 1996 Krug Clos de Mesnil, +43.8% over 8 trades in the first quarter.  Prices for the regular 1996 Krug Brut  and the 1990 Dom Perignon were up more modestly at +7.3% and +11.1% on a broader base.

Top Bordeaux wines were flat or down moderately in the period: ’89 Haut-Brion was -0.9%, ’82 Lafite was +1.3% and 1990 Cheval was +3.8%, while 2000 Petrus was -9.2% and ’89 Lynch Bages was -13.9%

Growth continued for many Burgundy wines.  The biggest gainer was ’93 Leroy Musigny at +52.5%, but there was only one trade during the period (in the Acker Grunewald sale), although other vintages of the same wine also showed sharp growth and Leroy generally has been very buoyant in spite of fairly high prices.  1990 Rousseau Chambertin continued to show good growth at +31.9%, and even younger vintages, such as the 2010 Liger-Belair La Romanee was +9.4%.  Some of the less well-known wines showed slower growth however: no ’09 Cathiard Malconsorts came to market, but the ’05 vintage was +3.7% in the period, and the ’05 Fourrier Clos Saint-Jacques was +0.9%.

Results were mixed for white Burgundy.  1996 Coche Corton Charlemagne showed comparatively modest growth at +2.9%, but 2005 DRC Montrachet was +57.5% over 11 bottles trading hands, with 9 of them at Acker’s Chinese New Year sale.

Elsewhere, prices were generally higher for Rhone wines.  ’90 Rayas was +14.5%, and ’98 Bonneau Celestins showed the most growth of any indicator in the period at +62.8%.  Others, however, had dropped: ’78 La Chapelle was -1.4% (no ’61 traded hands), and the ’99 La Mouline was -17.7% with 50 bottles trading hands.  Italian wine drooped slightly: ’07 Masseto was -6.5% in spite of a strong showing at the Sotheby’s New York sale, and ’90 Monfortino was -4.9%.

New World wines were mixed.  ’01 Grange was +4.3%, but ’97 Screaming Eagle was -3.8%, and ’94 Dominus was -5.7%, while Port continued to show modest growth, with ’63 Nacional +7.6% and ’77 Taylor’s at +4.0%.

Wine auction market sales sharply higher

The wine auction market showed ruddy good health in the first quarter of 2017 after a somewhat slow initial start. Total volume through the marketplace was $68.1 million, as compared to $43.5 million during the same period last year. The average lot value this year is considerably higher, at $3,938 this year as compared to $3,168 last year, and the total number of lots coming to sale is also up – from 15,001 in Q1 last year to 19,111 this year, with three more sales on the calendar. In addition, the average sell-through rate was more robust, with 92.52% of lots offered finding buyers as compared to 91.75% last year.

Sotheby’s continued to lead the market, with a total of $24.6 million in the quarter over seven sales, with an average sell-through rate of 93.8%. This total included a three-sale set of single owner sales all from the same anonymous vendor that totaled $9.3 million. While not the magnitude of last year’s Koch sale, this was still a significant sale, and their success with big single owner sales continues to help business getting on this front. They have recently announced the sale of another tranche from the Don Stott collection for May 20th, with a presale estimate of $2m – $2.8m.

Second place was won by Zachys at $13.8 million, driven in part by their very successful La Paulée auction, worth $7.9 million. The average sell through rate of 98.3% outperformed the marketplace. This is a very strong result, particularly given the fact that there was only one sale in Hong Kong and one sale in New York during the quarter. Zachys just edged out Acker, Merrall, who sold $13.5 million over four sales, while HDH sold $11.3 million in the quarter with their two Chicago sales, selling every one of their lots for what some would call a “white glove” result.

Christie’s and Bonhams were both slower than last year, albeit off a smaller base.  Dallas-based Heritage organized a sale in Beverly Hills, while last year they did not during the first quarter.

Strong results for Zachys La Paulée sale

La Paulée de New York for some collectors the highlight of the year’s wine calendar.  This is undoubtedly true for the consignors at Zachy’s La Paulée auction, which turned in a very robust result with 99% sold and an aggregate achieved of $7.88 million.  The named collection from Dr. Robert Caine sold particularly well, and Coche-Dury generated notable interest, with cases of 1992 and 1996 Meursault Perrières each realizing $39,200 against estimates of $18,000 – $28,000, a new world record for both wines.  The top lot of the sale was a 1990 DRC assortment case that earned $49,000, above the average for this wine.  In all, DRC accounted for 16 of the top 25 highest-grossing lots, suggesting that DRC prices are still strong.  The first day of the sale largely featured non-Burgundy wine, and these lots also sold well for the most part, with the caveat that results for California wine outside of the rarest lots were comparatively much weaker than other categories.

2017 Wine Auction Season Off to a Mixed Start

The 2017 wine auction season began with two sales in Hong Kong in advance of the Chinese New Year holiday to mixed results. Acker, Merrall reported strong interest in their January 14th sale at Grissini for their consignments directly from Burgundy domaines. The domaines participating included Jean-Marc Roulot, Fourrier, Hudelot-Noellat, Lamarche, Lignier, Duroché and Clos de la Chapelle. Some prices commanded a premium as in the example of magnums of the 2007 Roulot Perrières, which sold for $2,975 each, as compared to $2,032 at HDH a year ago. Magnums of the 2007, however, achieved less than they did at Sotheby’s in December 2015 ($2,125 as compared to $2,245). Elsewhere prices were also moderately strong, with Acker reporting their top lot as six bottles of 1999 Romanée-Conti, which made $121,110 ($20,185 per bottle), ahead of last year’s average with premium of $16,174 per bottle, but considerably less than the $25,381 per bottle achieved last November by Christie’s Hong Kong. The Acker sale overall was US$ 5,492,773 over 992 lots, 92% sold.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong has also reported the results of their first sale of the season featuring the Connoisseur’s Cellar Part II, at US$ 3,333,581 over 939 lots, a rather disappointing 87.2% sold. Sotheby’s saw great interest in Pétrus (24 lots, all sold), and Japanese Karuizawa whisky, with 35 lots, all selling through completely. Elsewhere, as at Acker, however, prices were mixed. Two bottles of ’45 Mouton sold for $18,846/btl. This was less than the 2016 average, but it should be noted that this average price last year was considerably buoyed by their own result for Bill Koch back in May, when they achieved a remarkable $34,300 per bottle for the same wine. Six bottles of 1990 Échézeaux “Henri for Georges” Jayer, however, sold for $6,282, attaining very nearly the level they did in that landmark sale, when it brought $6,533/btl.

Hong Kong during Chinese New Year is a heady place, though it seemed that buyers were saving their excitement for later in the year. Let’s hope that the rooster brings his trademark passion and courage to the wine buyers everywhere. 恭喜发财!

2016 Wine Auction Market Analysis

Executive Summary

Auction sales picked up considerably in the second half of 2016, carrying the results into positive territory, ending the year at $299 million, +2.22% over last year.  While burgundy wine continues to sell well, prices for some top wines are beginning to plateau, although there is still upward movement to prices in this category.  Prices for Bordeaux wine are making a resurgence in the secondary market, although it is less than some hope or claim.  In the primary market for fine wine, the campaign for the 2015 Bordeaux vintage showed prices that were higher than the trade would like but lower than the producers would have liked, while the bellwether Hospice de Beaune auction announced results sharply down from last year.

2016 Wine Auction Market Review

The auction market for fine and rare wine finished second half of 2016 in vigorous fashion, with US$ 154.8 million in sales, +7% over the same period last year and +6.8% above the first six months of the year.  This made up considerable ground, as value had dropped by -2.98% in the first half of the year, despite some high profile sales during the spring season.  Interestingly, the increase in the total sales came despite a drop of 6.7% in the number of lots coming to auction, showing a healthy increase in the average lot value and pointing to greater quality of property coming to sale.

Specific highlights of 2016 included the following:

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Zachys Offers Wines Direct from Domaine Faiveley and Nath. Johnston


Lovers of old claret, burgundy and Italian wines will swoon at the offerings in the Zachys Holiday sale on December 2nd.  This triple-header features a number of strong consignments from various vendors, but really takes off with a selection from the cellars of Bordeaux negociant Nathanial Johnston that includes the 6 bottles and one jero of Petrus 1924, reconditioned at the property, but also more than 2 cases of the sublime ’64 Petrus, mags of the epic ’49 Cheval Blanc, 1890 Pillet-Will Margaux, ’49 Cos, 1916 Gruaud Larose eand 1919 Yquem.  The second chief highlight is a consignment direct from Faively, which includes the first-ever jeros of their  super-cuvée of Clos de Bèze, Les Ouvrées  Rodin, as well as Clos des Cortons from the ’28 and ’59 vintages.  The trifecta is completed with a rich selection from Italy that features large parcels of Masseto and Gaja as well as a robust selection of almost all of the top Italian collectible wines.

Sothebys to auction Bollinger directly from their cellars


Led by a “tasting opportunity” featuring Bollinger 1914, Sotheby’s November 19th New York sale features “A Century of Bollinger” in addition to a number of other interesting consignments, including more than 200 lots of DRC containing more than fifty cases in original, banded OWC.  Also featured are the cellar of the late Martin Kaplan, rare 1960s Burgundy of good provenance such as full cases of ’66 Clair Daü Bonnes Mares and Rousseau Chambertin, as well as a magnum of 1947 Cheval Blanc.  There are also two charity lots to benefit La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, one of which features a jeroboam of 2000 Mouton and lunch at the château for six, -while the other includes an imperial of ’95 Pétrus and lunch at the Moueix prepared by chef Michel Guérard of the eponymous Michelin three-star restaurant.

Zachys “The Vault” single owner 100% sold, above high estimate


The New York tranche of Zachys multi-day single owner sale earned more than $5.5 million for the consignor, continuing a strong performance that began in September back in Hong Kong. There have also been two online segments, one of which is continuing. The combined total to date, after the two live sales and one online, is $11,986,289. The two top lots in New York both made $91,875: an imperial of 1961 Latour, and six magnums of 1988 Roumier Bonnes Mares, while six magnums of Rousseau Chambertin 1991 generated $51,450. Wines from Roumier and Rousseau, in fact, dominated the top ten, with seven of ten wines coming from these two iconic Burgundy producers.

Sotheby’s fall HK wine sales total over $11 million

Sotheby’s fall series of wine and spirits sales totaled over $11 million in a strong debut for their fall season here. A multivendor sale accounted for more than $4.9 million of the total (96.7% sold), led by 7 bottles of ’96 Jayer Cros Parantoux that earned more than $59,000 and 9 bottles of 1990 La Tâche that sold for more than $50,000. The sale entitled “Classic Cellar 2” also did well, earning more than $2.8 million, led by six bottles of 2000 Pétrus, which sold for $23,558. As Pétrus was the feature of this sale, the top twelve lots were all Pétrus. A single-owner focus, however, did not fare so well: the “Connoisseur’s Cellar” generated $2,814,792, but was only 83.5% sold by lot; the highest-grossing lot was a case of 1995 Jayer Cros Parantoux that sold for $65,962 including premium. Finally, the Asian allotment of the special “l’Odyssée d’un Roi” bottling of Rémy Martin Cognac Louis XIII sold for $190,000, as compared to the $135,000 that the same bottle earned in New York. The package includes the cognac in an engraved decanter from Cristallerie Saint-Louis in a trunk by Hermès and with a white gold pipette from silversmith Puiforcat. The next and final bottle will be sold in London on November 16th.

September 2016 wine auction recap

Executive Summary:

Bordeaux continues to strengthen; provenance increasingly important as single-owner and ex-domaine sales do very well; Burgundy trends are mixed but overall generally still positive.


The fall auction season opened with a multi-vendor sale by Christie’s Hong Kong, led by rare wines from the library of Bouchard Père et Fils. The top-grossing lot in the sale was a case of ’88 Romanée-Conti that sold for more than $174,000, a vigorous result. The old property from the Bouchard cellar also did well, making 260% of the pre-sale low estimate. Chambertin 1865 sold for nearly $40,000 per bottle, and Montrachet 1865 sold for more than $25,000 per bottle.

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